With its smartphone-related profits coming under increasing pressure, and a disappointing consumer response to its flagship Galaxy S5 handset following lukewarm reviews for the device, it’s been something of a difficult year for the South Korean tech behemoth.

However, data published this week by the American Customer Satisfaction Index has at last given the company something to smile about as it heads into 2015.

The survey, which each year questions 70,000 U.S.-based consumers on a range of products and services, saw Samsung take the top spot in the handset category.

Respondents gave Samsung a respectable satisfaction rating of 81 points out of a possible 100, five points up from last year and, more importantly, two points ahead of arch-rival Apple, which slipped two points compared to a year ago.

Considering all the fuss made over the recent arrival of Apple’s new larger-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones – with 10 million units sold over their first weekend – the results may surprise some, though admittedly the Index’s findings suggest there’s little between the Cupertino company and its main rival.

Still, Samsung will be more than happy to point to the figures as it preps the launch of the Galaxy S6, a handset it knows has to succeed if it’s to have a chance of getting its smartphone business back on track.

In its most recent financial quarter, Samsung said profit from sales of its smartphones was at a three-year low.

Robert Yi, Samsung’s head of investor relations, admitted that the company had been slow to react to market conditions over the past year, while senior vice president Kim Hyun-joon promised a shift in strategy in 2015 that’ll see the firm focus less on high-end handsets and more on different price tiers. The executive also said Samsung would “fundamentally reform” its product portfolio as part of its effort to rejuvenate its handset business.

[Via BGR]